Beckham’s Counties, pt. 4: New County Fever

A seven part essay about three efforts to name a county after Kentucky’s 35th Governor.

Olive Hill Bank. The Courier-Journal, February 14, 1904, section 4, page 3.

The governor had the honor (and power) of appointing Beckham County’s first county officials, who were to hold office until the following fall’s election. As was to be expected, they were mostly Democrats.

J.W. Lusby, who had much to promote Beckham County in print, was made County Attorney. This was convenient in more than one sense for Lusby had ceased to edit The Herald after it merged with the Carter County Bugle at the turn of the year.

Many responsibilities had to be transferred between the surrounding counties that had lost parts of their domain to Beckham County, including twenty-nine post offices.

Campaign promises fulfilled, W.B. Whitt returned to Olive Hill to be greeted with a hero’s welcome. There was a brass band, a cannon salute, and several back-patting speeches.

The Courier-Journal, in an enthusiastically promotional profile, stated that Olive Hill had lost just one citizen since Beckham County was formed. Apparently, the sheriff of Carter County, George Jacobs, had moved east in order to keep his job.

Back in Frankfort, Whitt introduced a bill for the county to be assigned to the appropriate legislative and judicial districts. Another politician elected on the Beckham County ballot, V.B. King, happened to be on the House’s Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Committee.

Opposition continued to be bold, if temporarily toothless. The Louisville Evening Post called Beckham County a “political monstrosity” and the Paducah Register referred to the means of its creation as a “fool legislature bill”.

There were reservations even from some Democrats.

Congressman James N. Kehoe, future president of the Bank of Maysville, fought (and failed) to keep Beckham County out of his 9th District. This was because he knew that after the new county’s appointed officials were replaced through election, it would be by Republicans.

Meanwhile, far on the other side of the state, in Fordsville, near Owensboro, there was talk of seceding from Ohio County and taking some of Hancock, Daviess, Grayson and Breckenridge with them.

Another bill was proposed in order to create a Thorne County out of parts of Pulaski, Wayne and Whitley Counties. Olive Hill might have been spared the indignity of a name change, but the prospect naming something after William P. Thorne remained.

Senator J. Campbell Cantrill, Republican from Georgetown, introduced the Thorne bill on February 19th. It was subsequently referred to the senate committee on rules. Days later, in a near unanimous vote, the senate passed it.

But trouble was brewing for Beckham County. On March 3rd, the Courier-Journal reported that the “Typographer’s Bureau of the Post-office department” didn’t know just where to place the new county on its map.

That same day, C.V. Zimmerman, the assistant cashier at the Olive Hill Bank, sued over Beckham County’s very existence.

Zimmerman, facing a seventy-five dollar fine from the county court, did not believe the new county was constitutional or that he should be subject to its oversight. He sought an injunction to prevent Beckham County Judge C.C. Brooks from acting in that capacity.

The case was sent to the Court of Appeals after Circuit Court Judge S.G. Kinner sided with Beckham County. Carter County officials, who had attempted to become party to the suit with Zimmerman but had been denied by Kinner, likewise appealed.

It appeared the fate of the new county would be decided from the same locale in which it had been conceived.

On the 11th, the Republican State Central Committee decided not to allow Beckham County to have delegates at the state convention that year since no votes had ever technically been taken there.

Chairman C.M. Barnett, who for unrelated reasons would retire from that position in May, further stated that they held “the act creating the county unconstitutional.” Both the decision and the sentiment greatly upset Republicans in Beckham. 

They called together a mini-convention of their own and wound up sending C.B. Waring and W.J. Rice to Louisville to beseech the State Central Committee for representation. The request was denied. The committee elected to wait until Zimmerman v. Brooks was settled.

As for Thorne County, the House did not take the bill for its establishment as smoothly as had the senate. In early March, they adopted a resolution to advance no bills within four days of the session’s end. Lt. Gov. Thorne reportedly took this as an attempt to stall the bill indefinitely.

But that particular paranoia was unfounded. On March 14th, the Kentucky House of Representatives passed two bills indicative of the times. One was to erect a monument to the memory of William Goebel and the other was to create the new county of Thorne.

*

Sources

Governor appoints county officials. “Officers Appointed For Beckham County.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 12, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119281947/. Behind paywall.

Lusby quits The Herald. Lusby, J.W., ed. “Three Years Ago the 13 of Last October the First Issue of the Herald.” The Herald (Grayson, Kentucky), December 25, 1903. On microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

29 Post Offices in Beckham County. Rennick, Robert M. “The Post Offices of Beckham County, Kentucky.” La Posta: A Journal of American Postal History, July 1988, 33-42. Available at Special Collections Research Center in Margaret I. King Library (University of Kentucky). Great, expansive article focused on post offices but also one of the better Beckham County histories.

Sheriff George Jacobs. Lowe, Sherry. “Carter County Elected Officials.” Carter County, Kentucky Genealogy & History Research Website. Accessed May 12, 2019. https://kycarter.com/main_links/officials.html. Jacobs’ identity, although not his address, further confirmed through newspaper reports.

Sheriff Jacobs moves East. Johnson, Lewis Y. “Beckham County, The New Baby of Kentucky’s Family of Counties.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 14, 1904, sec. 4. Page 3. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119283002/. Behind paywall.

Bill for Beckham’s districts. Menefee, S.W., ed. “”Race Segregation”.” Kentucky Advocate (Danville, Kentucky), February 19, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/237417193/. Behind paywall.

V.B. King on House Legislative Committee. “Chairman of the House Committee Are Tipped.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), January 11, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119273054/. Behind paywall.

Louisville Evening Post calls Beckham Co. “a political monstrosity”. Davis, Thomas A., ed. “Political Pickings.” The Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), February 25, 1904. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/68359230/. Behind paywall.

Paducah Register calls Beckham Co.’s creation “a fool legislature bill”. Adams, W.Q., ed. “Two New Counties Needed.” Owensboro Weekly Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), February 02, 1904. Page 4. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375358247. Behind paywall.

James Kehoe, as Maysville Bank President. Briney, Russell, ed. “James N. Kehoe of Maysville Dies of Illness at 84.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), June 14, 1945. Page 10. Accessed May 12, 2019. http://www.newspapers.com/image/107131545/. Behind paywall.

Beckham ultimately in Kehoe’s district. “Beckham County: More Facts and Observations About Its Public Servants, Etc.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), February 24, 1904. Page 6. Accessed May 7, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7wdb7vnw7n_6.

Kehoe attempts to keep Beckham Co. out of his district. “Making Plans.” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), February 10, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376112405. Behind paywall.

Fordsville interested in new county. Menefee, S.W., ed. “Another New County Scheme.” Kentucky Advocate (Danville, Kentucky), February 19, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/237417193. Behind paywall.

Thorne County bill. Rosser, and McCarthy, eds. “A Bill to Create Another County Out of Three Big Ones Proposed.” Evening Bulletin (Maysville, Kentucky), February 06, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/71200766/. Behind paywall.

Senator Cantrill introduces Thorne County bill. Meachum, Charles M., ed. “Senator Cantrill has introduced a bill creating Thorne county . . .” Hopkinsville Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, Kentucky), February 19, 1904. Page 4. Accessed May 9, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt744j09wz7c_4.

Thorne County bill referred to committee. Menefee, S.W., ed. “”Race Segregation”.” Kentucky Advocate (Danville, Kentucky), February 19, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/237417193/. Behind paywall.

Senate passes Thorne County bill. “Ripper Bill Passed In Senate By Strict Party Vote.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 26, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119286236/. Behind paywall.

Typographer’s Bureau troubles. “Can’t Locate Beckham County.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 03, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119288214/. Behind paywall.

Zimmerman sues Beckham County. “Will Be Tested: Constitutionality Of Act Creating Beckham County.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 04, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119288449/. Behind paywall.

Zimmerman’s $75 dollar fine. Wolfford, George. “Beckham County.” In The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by John E. Kleber. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1992. Pages 65-66.

County Judge C.C. Brooks. “Beckham County: Some Facts and Observations About the Men Who Will Preside Over Its Interests.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), February 17, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 9, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt731z41sm89_3.

Judge Kinner. Conley, M.F., ed. “Judge Kinner: Death of Prominent Jurist at Catlettsburg.” Big Sandy News (Louisa, Kentucky), July 11, 1913. Page 1. Accessed May 12, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt71ns0kts1g_1.

Kinner rules for Beckham County. “Demurrer Sustained To Zimmerman’s Plea.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 05, 1904. Page 7. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119288819/. Behind paywall.

No Beckham County Republican delegates. “Call Issued: Republican State Central Committee To Meet.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 11, 1904. Page 6. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119290784/. Behind paywall.

Republican Committee Chairman Barnett retires. Rosser, and McCarthy, eds. “Ernst Elected Chairman.” The Evening Bulletin (Maysville, Kentucky), May 05, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/71208058. Behind paywall.

Beckham County Republicans’ mini-convention. “Beckham County Republicans Are Hot.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 13, 1904. Page 15. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119291480/. Behind paywall.

Waring and Rice sent to Louisville. “To Demand Representation: Committee From Beckham County to Attend Committee Meeting.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 16, 1904. Page 5. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119292545/. Behind paywall.

State Central Committee denies request. “Convention Will Be Held In Louisville May 3.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 17, 1904. Page 8. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119292885/. Behind paywall.

House Resolution to take up no bills within four days of end. Fisher, Frank M., ed. “Still Wasting Time.” The Paducah Sun (Paducah, Kentucky), March 07, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 9, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7x959c6z54_1?

House passes Goebel Monument and Thorne County bills. “Monument Assured.” The Twice-A-Week Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), March 15, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 9, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375563697/. Behind paywall.

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